Steelers Succumb to Chiefs 36-10
One week after the Pittsburgh Steelers showed heart and resolve in their 19-13 win vs. the Tennessee Titans, they looked outmatched, outmuscled, and outplayed against the defending AFC Champion KC Chiefs in a 36-10 loss that dropped their record to 7-7-1 and on the brink of elimination from the NFL Playoffs.
“Disappointing. We did not do enough in any of the three phases to give ourselves a chance.” Said Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. “On offense, we turned the ball over. We had our struggles on offense. When we take care of the ball, we give ourselves a chance. We had three of those tonight. That was catastrophic.”
The heavily favored Chiefs (11-4) were not expected to be as dominant since they were missing several players to Covid-19 protocols, including All-Pro TE Travis Kelce, but when you have the 2018 NFL MVP in QB Pat Mahomes, the Chiefs knew they had nothing to fear. Mahomes led his team to a 23-0 first half lead and extended their lead to 30-0 in the third quarter. He finished the game passing for 258 yards (23/30) and 3 TDs, two to WR Byron Pringle (6 Rec, 75 yards) and one to WR Mecole Hardman (3 rec, thirty-one yards). The Chiefs’ other TD came on a 1- yard run by RB Clyde Edwards-Helaire and 3 Elliott Frye FGs.
“We did not get necessary stops on defense when we put on the short field and largely, we didn’t win enough of the weighty downs, possession downs, red zone etcetera.” Said Tomlin. “Not enough on special teams. You know, this is a collective of players and coaches. We own this.”
With their eighth-straight win, the Chiefs are now AFC West Champions for the sixth straight season and are now in the driver’s seat for the #1 seed in the AFC. After struggling in the first half of the season, the Chiefs are ready for improved things.
Meanwhile, the Steelers struggled in all three phases of the game (offense, defense, and special teams), especially in the first half in which they failed to score any points, while giving up 23. QB Ben Roethlisberger could have seen better days as he passed for only 159 yards (23/35) a TD and an interception. His TD pass went to WR Diontae Johnson (6 rec, 51 yards) late in the fourth quarter. Rookie RB Najee Harris rushed for 93 yards on 19 carries as he is closing in on 1,000 yards. But Harris still had problems finding holes due to struggles with the Steelers offensive line who also were not as successful protecting Big Ben as he was sacked 4 times.
Although his 34-yard FG gave the Steelers their first points late in the third quarter, K Chris Boswell missed a FG late in the second quarter.
With two games remaining and their playoff hopes dimming, the Steelers know they must win both and get help from other teams to either win the AFC North Division or earn the seventh and final Wild Card Playoff spot. They will face the Browns in the rematch at Heinz Field on Monday night (January 3, 2022), followed by their rematch vs. the Ravens in the regular-season
finale in Baltimore January 9, 2022. The Steelers know what they must do, the question is, can they do it?
“We can’t cry over the spilled milk. It is what it is tonight.” Said Tomlin. “We understand that. We better center our focus and put together our best efforts to secure victory next Monday night.”
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